Urban Forests: An Integral Part of City Planning
Benefits of Urban Forests
- At its most general, the urban forest simply improves the quality of life for citizens. The health of citizens and their psychological and physical wellbeing can be improved from the inclusion of urban forests.
- They provide recreational opportunities including exercise, relaxation, and other similar activities. All of these activities have a positive effect on the wellbeing of citizens, and can help foster a sense of community among citizens. As a result, groups can help further the development of a positive city, spurring improvements for the residents and the environment around.
- They help improve the environmental quality of the city. Urban forests can help reduce the use of energy and emissions of carbon dioxide. Forests can help improve air quality, meaning that cities as a result can be much healthier place to live. They also can help improve urban hydrology, and as a result can reduce run-off, improve water quality, and reduce storm water treatment costs.
- The ecological benefits are plentiful. Urban forests attract wildlife, which is favored by many residents. Urban forests also contribute to the conservation of soil, as well as help foster and preserve biodiversity. Biodiversity has numerous benefits such as providing a better quality of life for residents.
- They also help provide economic benefits. Areas located near or within urban forests often have greater real estate value, attracting potential buyers and providing sellers with a more lucrative payoff for selling a house. While the evidence of the benefits are elusive, urban forests may also help improve the local economy of a city.
Protection and Maintenance For Urban Forests
Since urban forests are developed by human beings, their proper maintenance is essential for any city. It’s important to have a plan in some form (such as an agenda) that aims to make sure an urban forest is healthy, beneficial, and utilized to its full positive potential. A well-planned direction solves potential issues that come with development and the aftermath of maintaining an urban forest. It’s essential to have such a plan, as it provides protection and the chance for an urban forest to thrive.
- Chicago’s Urban Forest Agenda
- Portland Parks and Recreation Forest Action Plan
- Charlotte Urban Forestry Management Plan
- Wake Forest Urban Forest Management Plan
While individual cities have their own unique plans, the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council was established in 1990, to address and solve issues that threaten the wellbeing of urban forests. The NUCFAC is an appointed advisory council, one that establishes ties with the Secretary of Agriculture. Aside from providing invaluable protection and damage prevention, the council offers grants, policy, and other government resources for urban forests.